Beijing's former representative to Fiji says Chinese diplomats under great pressure

Chinese diplomat who defected to Australia dissects recent scuffle at Taiwanese celebration in Fiji

Chen Yongli, former Chinese diplomat.

Chen Yongli, former Chinese diplomat. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — A former Chinese representative to Fiji, Chen Yonglin (陳用林), said Tuesday (Oct. 20) that Chinese diplomats are under great pressure to defend Beijing's global image as well as prevent recognition of Taiwanese sovereignty.

Dissecting the altercation that broke out between Taiwanese and Chinese diplomats at a National Day celebration in Fiji, Chen told the Washington Post that overseas Chinese representatives have adopted a sterner stance towards Taiwan than in the past. He said although Beijing would attempt to interfere with Taiwanese events during his time in Fiji, no Chinese diplomats would force their way into Taiwan's representative office.

Before defecting to Australia in 2005, Chen served as a junior diplomat in Fiji between 1994 and 1998. He said he had monitored Taiwan's interactions with local Chinese communities and tried to dissuade Fiji officials from participating in Taiwanese events during his four-year tenure.

Chen said he and his embassy colleagues would peek inside the Taiwanese office and document what they saw, but a "gate-crash" was not an option. He said cross-strait relations have changed dramatically since then and that merely reporting observations of Taiwan's diplomatic activities is no longer enough for Chinese diplomats to earn a promotion.

Chen also pointed out that Chinese officials stationed in the South Pacific Islands are tasked with bigger responsibilities since the area is considered a diplomatic battlefield between Taiwan and China. He added that any inaction from the officials could result in an ill reputation and endanger their political career.

On Monday (Oct. 19), news broke that two Chinese diplomats had crashed Taiwan's National Day reception and injured a Taiwanese representative office employee. The Taiwanese government has criticized Beijing's "hooligan" diplomats and cautioned its representative offices about China's "wolf warrior" diplomacy.

Meanwhile, Beijing blamed Taiwan for provoking its diplomats by decorating a cake with the Taiwanese flag. It claimed that the two Chinese officials were simply "carrying out their official duties."